What are you escaping into? Issue #2 of Y: The Last Man jumps two months past the incident which killed off every man on Earth, and gives us a look at the broken, but not destroyed, society which is left behind. The streets are quiet at night, but there’s no riots or looting going on – at least, that we know of. We’re told that there are a band of ‘Amazons’ out in America somewhere, causing havoc. But for the most part… all is quiet.
It’s a very different kind of apocalypse to the one you might expect, but it’s not as if women are just going to give up and die, simply because there are no men around. One of the things that we’re going to see more and more as the series continues is that Vaughan steadfastly refuses to ever pull back and give us a big picture. Instead, we’re stuck with Yorick, 355, and Yorick’s mother, as they attempt to piece together as much of their reality as they can. We only learn new details as they learn them, and we still have no idea who is telling the truth and who is exaggerating. In this issue, that means Yorick trades conspiracy theories with a former model-turned body-collector and 355 breaks into the home of the new President.
Vaughan has never been afraid of throwing politics into his work – look at Ex Machina or Pride of Baghdad – but here we have a simple, plain way of looking at things. The President was male, and now he’s dead. Everybody else in a major position was male, and now they’re dead. The only woman in a high-ranking position was the Secretary of Agriculture, and now she’s the only one left to take on the role of President. It’s a long way from Virginia, but already it’s becoming clear just how the event is affecting the World. By showing us the way succession has fallen in America, Vaughan plants the idea in readers’ mind – what does this mean for the UK? France? The Vatican?
Interestingly, the issue doesn’t really seem like it’s developing the characters. Instead Vaughan uses pre-established personalities which he allows to trickle out, bit by bit, as the story progresses. We’re reminded that Yorick is an illusionist, but not until he needs to use those skills to escape some handcuffs. His mother struggles to deal with her dead husband, but we only see it when she’s on her own and nobody else can see her. It makes the series feel a lot more personal, as we don’t have fresh introductions to the cast but are instead forced to go along with people who feel like they already exist. They experience the events the same way we do.
Pia Guerra’s ability to draw realistic human expressions and body language is shown off here, but lots of the issue is actually about what isn’t shown. Yorick’s reaction to confirmation of his father’s death is depicted, but largely hidden under shadow. Likewise, we are yet to see anything from his sister, which leaves her fate absolutely anywhere at this point in time. And the final page introduces some villains with absolutely no explanation for who they might be – as the characters experience events, so the readers must experience them too. While Yorick still wanders round the Earth, we’re as much in the dark about his future as he is. You might cheat death and escape capture – but what’s round the corner?